Friday, July 23, 2010

Zulu king revives male circumcision tradition to fight AIDS

Male circumcision was once a Zulu tradition that was used to celebrate a male's entry into manhood. Although the process has been largely abandoned in the past 50 years, the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini wants to bring back the practice to help his people. The Zulu tribe has the highest AIDS infection rates of any group in South Africa. This is even more alarming given that South Africa has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates of any country in the world. In many areas, up to 1 in 6 people are infected with HIV/AIDS.

CNN follows the story 18-year-old Nhlonipho Mchunu, a young Zulu man who is undergoing circumcision to reduce his chances of contracting AIDS. A 2005 study in South Africa indicated that circumcised heterosexual men were 60% less likely to contract HIV/AIDS. Mchunu and several of his friends go to a local hospital to undergo the procedure. There were long lines for the clinic, evidence that the King Zwelithini's message was being heard by the masses. The painless circumcision procedure has already had a big impact on reducing the prevalence of AIDS. However, in Mchunu's province of KwaZulu-Natal, there are still 350 deaths from AIDS related diseases every day and about 320 new cases of infected people.

-Matthew Thwaites

SOURCES: "Zulu king promotes circumcision to fight HIV/AIDS"-CNN, "Tackling AIDS with Tradition"-CNN